Thursday, April 16, 2009

Paper Bag or Box Book Reports

Being new to teaching the intermediate grades this year, I was pretty excited about the reading part. . .and the projects that go along with the reading that the students complete. More so, I wanted to find real projects that teach the basic skills that go along with reading a book, but also projects that allow the students to get away from the typical “writing” a traditional book report.

So, I did a little searching around in my college box for notes and projects I had done back then, and then did a little updating from the internet. (Boy, am I a big fan of the internet!)

So here is the latest project in my classroom. Again, this is a project that can be used at ANY grade level. It just needs to be modified slightly. I’m doing one with grade four now, but I’ve done one with grade one students in the past (based on a Theme/Book Week of The Wizard of Oz), and my college project was based on a preschool book. Here is what it is all about:

My Book Bag Project
After selecting and reading a book independently (or as a class at younger grade levels), students get to create a book bag. The book bag will be filled with objects that relate to the book they have read. Each object must relate to the book in some way AND allow the students to talk about the book. This is an easy way to prepare for and give an oral presentation. The bag will be decorated to represent the book as well. This is an easy way to interest the artistic side of your students.

Materials needed: paper bag (lunch size or grocery size, depending on grade level and/or objects) or gift bag or shoe box, items relating to your book, “stuff” for decorating you bag

1. Students read a book. (For us this was an animal novel that we used for a theme-based Literature Circle study.)
2. Students make a list of 5-10 items that relate to the character, plot, theme, setting and so forth. Then go home and collect these items. I have had the students make a list consisting of three sections. First, the students list the item. In the next column, students should write a brief (one sentence) description of how the item relates to the story. In the third column, the students should write which book concept the item relates to (plot, setting, etc). Then, go home and collect the items!
3. When the items came to school, I asked my students to write a small paragraph for each item. The paragraphs were 3-5 sentences long, telling me how the item related to the book (with details—answer the question “why?”) and how the item related to the plot, setting, theme, or characters (with details—answer the question “why?”)
4. Students should edit their paragraphs. You can try partner-editing, self-editing, or teacher-editing. Whatever works for your project.
5. Good copies! These can be written out or typed during a computer period.
6. The next step is making the presentation for the bag and paragraphs. I required my students to decorate their bag so that one side looked like a title page for the book (making sure they included the title, author, illustrator, picture, and their own name). Again, this part is up to you depending on your project.
7. All the items get put in the bag, students practice their presentation.
8. Students present their projects to the class. First, students should introduce their book, talk about he outside of their bag and then explain each item inside the bag.

A rubric will be provided for the students to score their work and presentation.
(When I learn how to add document downloads to this site, I’ll post the rubric taht I made.)

What is great about this idea: Students take so much ownership because the book and the work that goes along with it becomes their project. It no longer is a teacher-directed lesson, but student-directed and student-centred. It is a natural way to teach the various parts of a story, and also a natural way to integrate reading, writing, art. . .with lots of creativity!

Another great thing about this idea: I’ve used a teacher-created book bag at the younger grade levels to pull out items while reading a story, just to give the kids who need the extra sensory stimulation a 3D object to touch in addition to the pictures from the book.

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